Sunday, January 26, 2020
Anna and Dr. Ed Durst

Well-known doc battles Alzheimer’s

Not a day goes by that Anna

Durst doesn’t grieve because of

something that has taken over

her husband’s body.

For nearly four years, Dr.

Ed Durst, 77, has been battling

Alzheimer’s disease. Since this

past March, Anna has been able

to no longer take care of him, and

he has been confined to a memory

care unit in Owatonna under

24-hour supervision.

“It’s a terrible disease,” Anna

says. “It steals your person. You

still see your person as who

they are on the outside, but they

are just dwindling away on the


Anna describes her husband’s

disease as being “pretty advanced.”

She said for a long time

he recognized that his memory

and ability to function daily were

slipping away. It made him sad,

angry and frustrated, she said.

Now, she added, he is beyond

that and doesn’t really remember

what he’s lost.

Dr. Durst served the Owatonna

community for 28 years as a

general practice surgeon before

retiring in 2002. He and Anna

have been married for 23 years.

Anna recalls that Ed began

showing a few little signs of

problems, but they dismissed it as

normal signs of aging. After Ed

suffered a heart attack in March

2015, he recovered by being on a

ventilator for a couple days. However,

his symptoms with memory

loss increased a lot after that

and he was soon diagnosed with


She said Ed experienced

trouble with anything sequential

involving finances, bills, payments

and numbers. He began

forgetting everything and had

major gaps in short-term memory.

She also noticed he would tell

the same stories over and over.

Ever since Ed has moved into

the memory care unit, Anna tries

to spend at least a couple hours

with him every day. She said he

still recognizes her, but no longer

knows any other family members.

The couple has six children

and several grandchildren, who

have all handled the situation

in different ways. Not surprisingly,

it has left family members


“We try to remember it’s the

disease, not him,” Anna said.

“We try to remember the person

he was. They look the same, but

they are totally different.”

Anna works full time as a

nurse at Owatonna High School

where she has been for the past

15 years. Prior to the school, she

worked for almost 20 years at

Owatonna Clinic where she was

able to work together with Ed.

In addition to working, Anna

is left to do everything at home by

herself. “It’s horrible, it’s really

horrible,” she said. “I try to make

all decisions based on what he

would want. I try to remember

who he was even when they days are hard,” she added.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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